Top 5 Times the FBI intervened to Help the US Right Wing

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

What is unusual about the FBI’s intervention in the 2016 election is not the intervention. The FBI tries to shape US politics every day. They actually used hashtags to put supporters of Black Lives Matter under surveillance. It is that they are doing it openly and at the level of a presidential election campaign. That is, Hillary Clinton is being treated like Black Lives Matter members. Even in the 1940s the FBI hated Democrats and saw them as “socialists,” i.e. crypto-Communists. (FBI director Edgar J. Hoover denied this allegation publicly but the documentation on all this is by now quite clear).

So here are some other heavy duty FBI interventions in US politics:

1. In 1946, the FBI started whisper campaigns in the media against progressive Democrats as being secret Communists, throwing Congress into the hands of the Republicans for the first time since 1930.

2. In the 1950s, Kenneth O’Reilly argues, the FBI fed secret smears on leftists to the House Un-American Activities Committee and played a big role in McCarthyism. J. Edgar Hoover may not have liked McCarthy and may have felt some of his charges were lacking in evidence, but the agency worked hand in glove with McCarthy’s committee.

3. In the 1960s the FBI used its covert COINTELPRO program to infiltrate and disrupt Civil Rights organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They even tried to destroy Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom they called “the most dangerous Negro,” with illegal electronic surveillance.

4. COINTELPRO was also deployed against groups organizing to protest the Vietnam War. Note that the US Constitution gives people the right to protest, so the FBI was acting unconstitutionally. In 1971 activists broke into an FBI office and found the documents on COINTELPRO and began leaking them to the press, which got pressure from Nixon not to publish them. They did anyway. The FBI immediately cancelled COINTELPRO.

5. After the Native American Movement occupied Wounded Knee (site of a late 19th century massacre) for three months in 1973, the protesters were acquitted on the grounds that the FBI manipulated key witnesses.

Given this history, it is extremely irresponsible of the Bush and Obama administrations to have given the FBI vast new powers of secret security letters to by-pass warrants, and vast new unwarranted surveillance tools.


Related video:

CNN: “Comey: FBI has not changed conclusions on Clinton”

39 Responses

  1. The news just out is that the FBI have made a public statement saying Clinton isn’t guilty of anything. So they checked all 64,000 emails in just a couple of days. That’s impressive indeed! This is absurd and all it does is deepen the suspicion that all is not well in the American government. There are already millions of posts on forums everywhere asking who leaned on the FBI to come up with this. Had there been only a few hundred emails it might have been believable, but 64,000? Pull the other one. Clinton was set to win without this second intervention by the FBI so all this does is leave people with the suspicion that powerful people have been working overtime behind the scenes.

    • Is it possible that some enterprising person in the FBI brought an old laptop to work and searched the database every which way but loose in a matter of hours? Ah, these modern marvels.

    • What do you envision? Comey, caffeine-infused via coffee IV drip, sorting through all those emails by himself? FBI has an $8bln+ budget and 35,000+ employees. Get a grip.

    • 1. The number of emails cited is 650,000.

      2. The only emails potentially relevant were those between 2009 and 2013, while Clinton was Sec. of State. Those would likely be far fewer than 650,000.

      3. There has never been any evidence of wrongdoing concerning Clinton’s emails. In fact, she did the same as her predecessors Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell, the latter having encouraged her to use “a private computer”.

      None of that was illegal, but the reason only Clinton was alleged to have committed crimes is that (1) she is named Clinton, (2) she is a Democrat, and (3) she is running for President.

      4. Clinton is by now the most vetted political candidate in US history, and therefore thoroughly shown to be not corrupt, and not corruptible. (The Clintons released 39 YEARS of tax returns — and yet are alleged to be “hiding” “something”!?) The irony is that that vetting can be trusted because it was conducted by Clinton’s enemies. The irony is that she has been consistently proven to be not guilty of any wrongdoing by her Republican accusers.

      5. Using computers and modern software, it takes little time to conduct the searches that were conducted in the emails. One wonders, though, why it took so long with so few emails.

    • You download the emails to a dozen different computers and have agents work in shifts. If it was a personal email, that would be immediately obvious and wouldn’t require reading the whole thing. It doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility to get something like this done in the allotted time frame with enough agents. According to the LA Times, the FBI worked around the clock after they got the search warrant. It was 9 days from the first letter to Congress to the letter clearing to

    • ACTUALLY – it is very, very easy to search trough 30GB of data very quickly these days because we have these things called computers.

      Because I though 650000 emails sounded like a large number I did some research on my own business computer and found that 650000 typical emails are ONLY about 30 GB of data and as Edward Snowden has pointed out, it is very, very easy and fast to search 30 GB of data for specific patterns.

      Every second of every day of the week, Google searches far more than 30 GB of data to help you find the optimal cat video. Actually every second of every day, Google searches terabytes of data.

      One of the email folders on my business system has almost 10,000 emails in it and my simple dual core system easily searches that to find a specific email in less than a second.

      So yes, the FBI, once it got its act together, definitely did a through search of wiener’s system and discovered that all of the emails were duplicates of stuff they already had.

      The obvious question is why Comey didn’t have the search done BEFORE he opened his fat mouth.

      And once again, republicans FAIL at MATH.

    • John W:

      We have these things called computers. They can quickly churn through a stack of e-mails and sort for various things. It turns out that they were mostly duplicates of emails the FBI already had.

      Edward Snowden did a little piece on this.

    • Most of the checking was done by computer to see that there were no new relevant emails. And it wasn’t a “couple of days”.

    • If they were only interested in emails involving Hillary, they could use a search program to find just those emails. Mots likely only a tint fraction were Hillary emails. Then another program should be able to check those Hillary emails, against ones already in the FBI database. All that could be done at the speed of computation, which is thousands or millions of times faster than humans reading emails.

    • Really very easy, with standard Unix/Linux/BSD/Cygwin tools. Every email header contains a unique code, created from the contents and date and time of the email. The FBI already has a list all the headers of all the emails they have already examined. It’s trivial to make a list of the hashes of the new batch of emails and compare them to the existing list to see if any of them have not already been examined. According to reports very few, if any, had not already been examined, so no time needed to be spent on examining them individually. The job could have, and should have been, done in a few hours before Comey (who appears to be as computer illiterate as Hillary) sent his carefully crafted accusatory letter to Chaffetz.

  2. Please add the campaign of mass murder against the Black Panther organization, approximately 1968 – 70- something. I have not studied this as a professional historian, but I lived through it, reading the left-wing press that tried to report it all, at the worst estimates it may have taken 30-40 lives.

    For the record, it was probably 1969 or 1970 that I made an effort to be a consistent volunteer with a Black Panther-sponsored “Breakfast for Children” program, held once a week, in Santa Cruz California — not exactly a hotbed of racial hostility, even then. For this white guy from the flat east-side suburbs of LA, it was indeed my first opportunity to interact with actual black people — even though, for example, I was plugged in enough with the civil rights movement that in ’65 I was defending the Watts rioters to other racist/semi-racist whites. I also volunteered occasionally in the next two years. Our resources were ridiculously poor, yet we never tried to do anything but good for the 15-20 kids that showed up.

  3. With respect to the Clinton email server, Comey has said just one thing that is significant. It is probable that a foreign state, i.e., Russia, hacked Clinton’s server, although the evidence that supports that guess isn’t solid enough to make it admissible in court. What the FBI needed and didn’t have in order to recommend charges of criminal negligence were copies of emails that could have been obtained only by hacking the server. Comey’s dilemma may be that he believes Putin has those emails and can release them through Wikileaks any time he wants to. Obviously, if Putin does have those emails and wants to use them to sow fear, uncertainly and doubt about our government, the best time for him to release them is after November 8, not before. I think Comey’s public statements have mitigated that risk a little.

    • Do you accept his unfounded belief that Russia is the criminal, despite Assange’s express reply that it is NOT, that Wikileaks has provided the emails, not Russia? Nobody outside the USA is needed to interfere with US elections, but the USA assumes that because it constantly interferes with others, Russia must as well.

    • In short, there is no evidence of that hypothesized “hacking,” and your use of the biggest word in the English language — “if” — exposes the underlying premise of your statement: speculation, mixed with unevidenced suspicion, made possible by slight misstatement of the facts. And omits the fact that “Wikileaks” is a criminal organization operated by a fugitive from justice.

    • BUT . . .

      Americans should keep in mind that Russia (and China, Iran, Israel and a dozen other countries) has hacked many computers controlled by the USA government!

      There is nothing on the Clinton computer that is not also available on many hacked USA government computers.

  4. I may be na├»ve but don’t all nations have such organizations, Russia, China, the UK, Israel, Syria, etc. etc. They vary in their resources and methods but they all exist to keep the system on the rails and neutralise potentially troublesome individuals and groups. The US probably has one of the most efficient, understandably given its size and complexity. The fact that they favour the right is surely because that is where the status quo tends to be rooted.

  5. I would argue that the FBI’s involvement in the war on terror is a sixth example of the FBI working for right wing causes. An example of this is the FBI’s entrapment of Mohamed Osman Mohamud in the 2010 Portland car bomb plot:

    link to

    • The FBI did not “entrap” Mohamed Osman Mohamud. He was given multiple opportunities to back out of his plot, but each time he insisted he wanted to go through with it. Mohamud was a legitimate target who deserved the charges against him and the sentence imposed.

      • I had a neighbor several yeas ago who worked for the county sheriff and was one of the nicest people I could have asked for to live next door to me. He surprised me one day when he told me that he had been a juvenile delinquent who was heading for a life of crime. He was saved by a deputy sheriff who took an interest in him and turned him around. I recently told this story to a corrections officer in the same county who told me incidents like that happen frequently. Until someone presents a better case for convicting this young man in Portland, I’ll remain convinced he should have been counseled by someone more enlightened than what he met in the FBI’s office. Gave him chances to back out? Lots of teenagers have problems admitting they were wrong and tough it out. How about, instead, “Mohammed, you’ve been lied to. Let me explain …?

        • Big difference between a juvenile delinquent stealing hubcaps and someone insisting on carrying out a terrorist bombing.

  6. It’s too soon to know what in hell Comey was thinking and doing, and intending. But he crossed lines one does not legally cross. As did the apparent collusion, perhaps even conspiracy, between Giuliani and NY FBI office personnel, and the leaking of baseless hate-documents.

    There needs to be criminal investigations and prosecutions of the perpetrators, including Giuliani. (That won’t happen with Comey, but he has committed career suicide so is finished, regardless the facts as finally determined.) They, including Giuliani, should be charged and prosecuted for sedition, subversion, and or treason, but that won’t happen.

    Sens. Franken, and Feinstein, are determined that Comey will be answering to the Senate. And what is urgently needed is a thorough investigation of all of it, including any collusion between Comey and or other rogue FBI agents, and Republican Congressmen involved with the continuing baseless smear campaign, as excuse for utterly baseless “investigations”. Some history:

    1. The attack on Pearl Harbor, which killed thousands, was investigated 8 times.

    2. The 9/11 attacks, which killed thousands, has half “investigated” — only enough to shift the cloud over the Bush criminal enterprise onto the intelligence community, which half of the “investigation” has never occurred. We are left to believe that all 17 independent intelligence agencies failed at the same time on the same day.

    3. The attack on Benghazi, which killed 4, has been “investigated” (so far) 8 — some say 9 — times.

    4. Under G. W. Bush, there were attacks on 20 consulates and embassies, and 66 were killed. No outrage. No accusations. No investigations.

    As concerns the emails:

    Rice and Powell did exactly the same as Clinton — none of which was illegal. And we have emails documenting that Powell encouraged Clinton to use “a private computer” because that way one could “get around things”. But they aren’t being falsely accused, let alone investigated, because they are Republicans, and not running for President.

    • Giuliani indeed. He’s really been going off the rails this whole election.

  7. As long as the FBI headquarters building is named for J. Edgar Hoover the FBI should be regarded with great skepticism – and, perhaps, some fear.

  8. John Wilson, a HUMAN didn’t scan the emails. A COMPUTER checked them against the database of mails they already have. I have a duplicate file finder on my 2006-era PC that can do terabytes overnight, I expect the FBI has better technology. See also Snowdens tweet about how this is possible.

  9. To John Wilson:
    My understanding is that no one sits down and personally clicks through thousands of emails during an investigation of possible professional misconduct!

    A search parameter is created of email addresses and of key words from topics that are pertinent to the matter (in this case, national security) and then the emails are scanned by a computer.

    If the computer flags specific emails, then those emails are pulled and reviewed in more detail. A computer can run the initial scan within a matter of minutes.

    If no suspect email addresses or key words are found (and several random sample emails are reviewed and found to be benign), then the search can be concluded very quickly.

  10. After the Selma to Montgomery march, while Viola Liuzzo was returning from shuttling activists to the airport, she was shot dead by Klansmen. One of the four Klansmen in the car was an undercover FBI agent. The FBI tried to obscure that fact, and J Edgar Hoover began a horrible smear campaign against the murdered woman.
    My father was spit on by a redneck while on that march. Those of us with such memories are repulsed by Trump. We’re also nauseated by those who say ” he’s anti-establishment, so what the neck”. Or those who say he’s no worse than Clinton. The rise of Trumpism is the revenge of racist south. And the racist right has allies in law enforcement.

    • Viola Liuzzo was from Detroit and her husband was a Teamsters union official. An attorney who bonded her out jail when she was arrested during a civil rights demonstration was Jimmy Hoffa’s personal attorney, William Bufalino.

      The “undercover FBI agent” was federal informant Gary Thomas Rowe and the theory advanced in a federal civil rights suit against the government by the Liuzzo family was that they knew the Klansmen were out to endanger civil rights volunteers that and should have taken preventative measures before the Klansmen could hurt someone. That suit was thrown out by a federal judge in Detroit and the U.S. Justice Department actually sought at one point an award of $80,000.00 in costs and attorney fees against those who brought the suit on behalf of the Liuzzo estate, which was denounced by U.S. Senator Carl Levin.

      The FBI was targeting Teamsters union officials during the 1960s and 70s; that circumstance, along with the fact the Liuzzo family members were publicly criticizing the FBI, resulted in the “smear campaign” you allege.

      • interested readers can read about Viola Liuzzo on Wikipedia. The section ” FBI Cover-up and Leaks” will shed some light on this subject.

  11. After all of this I still don’t know what is supposed to so horrifying in the emails. I have grown the opinion that government “secrecy” and “sensitive information” is probably 90% garbage. Maybe not directly germane, but when Nixon was forced to relinquish “secret” administration files they were found to include boxes of clippings from the New York Times and the Washington Post.

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  13. From email leaks we know that Hillary Clinton was fully aware that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supplying weapons to jihadist terrorists. We also know, from public records that after Saudi Arabia and Qatar gave the Clinton Foundation tens of millions of dollars, that Ms. Clinton facilitated the sale of massive amounts of American-made arms to them. Hillary Clinton is guilty of treason.
    Furthermore, when Comey first “cleared” her, he nevertheless suggested that she was careless – reckless, actually – with secret government information and that she had committed perjury.
    Stopping Trump from being president is no excuse for letting Hillary off the hook.

    • Larry – Mrs. Clinton will be our President for most likely, eight years. Plenty of time to exercise that Hillary Derangemnt Syndrome (HDS).

    • When Hillary Clinton was SOS she was accused of not doing anything. Now that she is running for President, she is accused of doing everything. Are you so uninformed that you think that she or any SOS can make and implement significant public policy independent of the President? The SOS mainly runs the department and is one of many advisers that the President has. In addition to the National Security Council, there are numerous special advisers and Vice President Biden also had a significant role in foreign policy. The US has been providing significant arms aid to the Saudis for over 40 years ($312 million back in 1972, which would be the equivalent of about 5 times that today). This year the US is selling them $1.5 billion, long after Clinton left and it was app-roved by the Senate. Additionally, arms sales and arms aid is mostly in the purview of the Department of Defense and State is just one department that signs off on the deal. The idea that Clinton was the main cause of this is just ridiculous. Comey called her behavior extremely careless, not reckless and the State Department disagrees with that description. He never once said that she was guilty of perjury. As for the emails, only 3 of those that the FBI claimed were classified, were classified at the time she received them and they were not marked as classified. Of the 3 that were marked classified, they were marked incorrectly in such a way that most users would not identify them as classified. I know because I previously had a top secret clearance and would not have recognized those emails as classified. You can criticize Clinton for many things, but please stick to the truth.

    • The whole world “knows” the Saudis are funding ISIS, but it is politically expedient to not confront the Saudis royalty directly.

      Note that the POTUS was the person that made the decision, along with Congress, to sell weapons to the dissuade. It was NOT just Clinton. The USSOS position is NOT that powerful.

      Not only that but what you describe is perfectly NORMAL diplomatic behavior by every country on earth.

      Basically, Clinton can not be indicted for any crime, let alone convicted as EVERY “investigation” of Clinton has concluded. There is no “treason.”

      As for people being “careless” with government documents that covers almost 100% of everyone that has ever been employed by the USA government and as noted by Comey, no sane prosecutor would ever file the charges. In other words THERE IS NO CRIME.

      The bottom line is even though your damaged mind sees “terrible crimes” there are actually NO CRIMES.

  14. I still remember the infamous Ashcroft Hospital showdown, when Comey literally sped to the hospital where then-AG john Ashcroft lay, sedated following an operation. Remember Alberto Gonzalez? He wanted to get Ashcroft’s comatose signature on a memo to authorize torture and Comey absolutely opposed this, and he threatened to quit if Gonzalez did this at the hospital.

    With all due respect, I think the guy puts government before party. The sad issue to me was DoJ official Peter Kadzik writing Podesta via personal gmail alerting Podesta to an investigation at that time into the State email scandal. And we know who Kadzik is, historically or one can google him

    Why are government officials using gmail to avoid FOIA and transparency? Meanwhile you as the historian or citizen can file a FOIA that will be ignored. That has to stop The transparency onus and working under a glass should be on the government officials — not violating our 4th Amendment and spying on us. Go catch the bad guys, please

  15. Team Clinton really have themselves to blame. WIki could have released stuff, but if Podesta and friends had’t done what they did, there would have been zero scandals. It’s passing the buck to blame Assange. From now on elected officials should ask – do I want my mom or the voter reading about this in the paper? And that should be a guide for them to act responsibly – not hey. let’s switch to gmail to discuss classified stuff so the Chinese can get in on this. NOw we get why CHinese intel has been breaching gmail often

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